IAFF Legislative Priorities Included in Omnibus Bill

December 23 • 2020

Congress has passed a consolidated appropriations act for Fiscal Year 2021 that includes a significant number of provisions sought by the IAFF. Among its provisions, the bill provides significant funding for the fire service, sets standards to reduce the use of toxic flame retardants, addresses the scourge of fire fighter suicides and returns valuable communications spectrum to public safety.

The bill provides for the following:

  • Preserves Public Safety Spectrum by repealing the T-band mandate, which would have required public safety entities in 11 major metropolitan areas to vacate the section of spectrum known as the T-band in 2021
  • Reduces the use of toxic flame retardants through the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act to make California’s Technical Bulletin 117- 2013 a national standard, replacing an outdated open flame test – which led to the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture – with a more modern and realistic smolder test
  • Tracks fire fighter suicides by establishing a public safety officer suicide reporting system

The bill also provides significant funding for the fire service:

  • $720 million for Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, evenly divided between the two programs
  • SAFER waivers allowing FEMA to make SAFER grants to retain fire fighters at risk of layoff and rehire laid off fire fighters, and to waive the grant’s cost share, period of performance, funding cap and maintenance of budget requirements
  • AFG waivers allowing FEMA to waive the grant’s cost share
  • Full funding of the cancer registry at $2.5 million
  • $705 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)
  • $610 million for the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP)
  • $37.832 million for the Urban Search and Rescue Response System
  • $3 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for hospital and healthcare providers, including EMS, to be reimbursed for healthcare related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency resulting from coronavirus

The bill also includes:

  • Additional funding for fire fighter hazardous materials training
  • Provisions protecting ground ambulance providers from billing restrictions
  • The Portable Fuel Container Safety Act, requiring portable fuel containers contain devices to prevent flame jetting

The provisions in the final bill are the culmination of significant lobbying by the IAFF and its members over the past two years; the final bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming days.